Preller Named One Of ESPN’s ‘MLB’s 15 Most Interesting People In ’15’
By Billy Brost
San Diego Padres’ GM A.J. Preller has made quite a name for himself since being named the team’s new front office boss this past August. From rumors of impropriety as an international scout for the Texas Rangers and subsequent suspension, to those openly doubting whether he had the experience or chops to handle running a big league franchise.
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After swinging and missing on free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and then Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the feelings on social media quickly turned on both Preller and the Padres. The belief that is was a new GM, same old Padres were rampant. Then came the annual Baseball Winter Meetings in Preller’s backyard. Within a period of just over a week in December, Preller took what was one of the most embarrassing, most inept display of hitting in the last 50 years, and turned the Padres into contenders, seemingly overnight. Gone were a slew of highly-touted prospects–including this last season’s first round selection, shortstop Trea Turner, and turned the future stars in real, legitimate, big league stars. First it was Matt Kemp, and then in a hurry, came Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Ryan Hannigan, who was subsequently flipped for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, and then came catcher Derek Norris.
Many thought if Preller was going to make an impact on this Padres’ roster, he’d have to break-up his three-headed monster at the top of his starting rotation in Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy. Once the smoke cleared, the rotation was intact, and the lineup looked just as dangerous as anything the Los Angeles Dodgers or World Series champion San Francisco Giants could currently roll out there.
It’s because of this instant makeover, that ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently named Preller one of MLB’s 15 Most Interesting People in ’15. Crasnick says that Preller has “…brought a buzz to San Diego that hasn’t been there since the team’s 1998 World Series run.” and Kemp has labeled his new boss “…a front office rockstar.” No, the holidays didn’t stop Preller from improving other areas of his team either. While not as highly-celebrated, Preller acquired an experienced reliever in Shawn Kelley from the Yankees, for a minor leaguer, and then turned a position of glut–with Seth Smith, into pitcher Brandon Maurer, who Jeff Sullivan of Fox Sports believes might be Tyson Ross 2.0.
While the World Series champion has never been crowned in December or January, the moves made during these winter month can sure set a team on the course for October glory.